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Archive for November, 2009

PRODUCT: Your Own Custom-Cut Christmas Tree

Perhaps you live in an area where you can cut down your own perfect Christmas tree. We don’t. We live in a city where pre-cut trees are trucked in, and even the first day they arrive, they barely have a scent. Sometimes we’re tempted to buy a pine scent spray, or even (gasp!) a polyester tree.

To the rescue comes GreenValleyChristmasTrees.com, to put the scent back in Christmas while saving you the schlep. Many of us buy everything else online from the comfort of our desk chairs, so why not the tree?

But even better, these are the highest quality trees (think perfect shape and no bald spots) hand-harvested on the same day they are shipped. You can’t get a fresher tree anywhere without your own saw, say the folks at Green Valley Christmas Trees, who grow premium Fraser Fir, Noble Fir and White Pine Christmas trees.

Your tree will arrive via FedEx: no driving, no traffic, no crowds, no hassle, no heavy lifting and no scratches on the car. If only the rest of the holidays were this easy.

For people who “have everything” (like your parents), a fresh-cut Christmas tree makes a great holiday gift.

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Fresh-cut for you. Not just a beautiful Fraser
Fir, but fragrant. Photo courtesy of GreenValleyChristmasTrees.com.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Our Daily Truffle

 

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Black truffle butter and white truffle
butter on bread: a heavenly snack! Photo by
Melody Lan | THE NIBBLE.

Another way to enjoy truffles for the holidays—and every day of the year—is with truffle butter.

D’Artagnan’s truffle butter is our favorite little indulgence. For the price of a cocktail, you can have a three-ounce tub of precious, sweet butter, chock-full of black or white truffle pieces. It’s as satisfying as a truffle dish.

We spread it on French rolls or a fresh baguette and are ecstatic. Try it as an hors d’oeuvre with wine.

Or, toss truffle butter with angel hair pasta, add it to a baked potato and butter your vegetables. Put a tablespoon in sauces and create masterpieces. You’ll be in truffle heaven for about $10.

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GIFTS: Gourmet Chocolate & Caramel Gifts Under $15.00

You can give delicious chocolates and caramels on a budget. Our selection is so tempting, you should probably order some for yourself, too! We’ve got:

  • Soft, buttery caramels from Indulge Caramels, in 13 flavors.
  • Ghost chile chocolate bars from Lillie Belle Farms that are the hottest and best we’ve had.
  • A set of three Angel Chocolate Bars, each wrapper with a different lovely angel painting by the chocolatier, Joy di Vita.
  • And more.

Check out our “Under $15.00” Chocolate Gifts list.

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Fruit cups, filled with white chocolate ganache
in boysenberry, lemon and strawberry, from
Lillie Belle Farms. Photo courtesy of Foodzie.com.

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GIFTS: Favorite Boxed Chocolates

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Theo Chocolates, one of our recommen-
dations, is both organic and Fair Trade
Certified. Photo courtesy Theo Chocolate.

If your thoughts for gift-giving lean to fine chocolates, here is our “short list” for the holidays.

Prices range from $15.00 and up, but not that far up—we know it’s a tight economy!

  • See our recommendations for a chocolate gift. In addition to modern classics from some of America’s most noteworthy artisans, there are confections that look like sushi!
  • Browse THE NIBBLE’s entire Chocolate Section—reviews, articles, Chocolate Glossary and more!

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TIP OF THE DAY: Truffle Peelings = Truffle Bargains

Truffle season is upon us, and black winter truffles will be coming into the market soon. If you’re jonesing for the heady aroma and taste of black truffles, but going out for a plate of truffled pasta isn’t an affordable fix, look for a jar of truffle peelings and make your own special dinner entrée or first course.

The peelings are the shaved outer layer of the whole truffle. They’re easy to find online; MarxFoods.com sells them. They may seem costly, but compare $85.00 or so for 8 ounces compared to more than $100 for one ounce of fresh black winter truffles.

1. Toss angel hair pasta with fine unsalted butter or truffle butter and the peelings—and use one of your nicest plates. A hearty red wine is a perfect companion.

2. You also can use the peelings in sauces, scrambled eggs and mashed potatoes or as garnishes.

Be careful—it could become a habit!

  • Discover our favorite truffle butter, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week, from D’Artagnan.
  • Learn all about truffles.
Whole and Cut Black Truffles

Can’t afford the real thing (who can!)? Look
for jars of truffle peelings. Photo by Kelly
Cline | IST.

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GIFTS: Kitchen Gift Ideas

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What items did we add to THE NIBBLE’s
kitchen this year? Check ‘em out! No, not
these! Photo by Luca Baroncini | SXC.

Here’s the first of our kitchen gift lists: Kitchen Gifts Under $35. In fact, some are as inexpensive as under-$10 stocking stuffers!

These gifts aren’t necessarily glamorous, but they’re the most useful items we tested this year. In fact, 90% of the products we test are donated to good causes. We liked these on our “gift list” so much that we kept them as part of THE NIBBLE’s test kitchen.

  • Take a look to see what we “gave ourselves” as gifts this year.

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GIFTS: THE NIBBLE’s Holiday Gift Recommendations

Here’s the first of our holiday gift lists—Stocking Stuffers Part 1—Savory Gifts.

Later today, the sweet stocking stuffers will be posted. The great thing about these gifts is how inexpensive they are!

This week, we’ll be posting more gift lists:

– Books
– Chocolate & Candy
– Cookies & Cake
– Diet Gourmet
– General Gourmet
– Green/Organic Gifts
– Kids’ Gifts
– Kitchen Appliances
– Kitchenware
– Kosher Gifts
– Wine & Spirits

Stay tuned!

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Give all of your potato chip-loving friends a
handsome reproduction box of the original
potato chips, invented in Saratoga, New York
in 1853. A fun and delicious gift for less than
$5! Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Celebrate National French Toast Day

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Celebrate National French Toast Day!
Photo courtesy MackenzieLtd.com.

November 28th is National French Toast Day, so celebrate! This tasty treat is usually made with plain white bread, but some people enjoy it even more made with challah, brioche, cinnamon swirl bread or raisin bread.

1. Beat an egg with some milk, soak the bread thoroughly in the mixture and fry in butter on both sides.
2. If you’re up to it, try caramelizing the toast with extra butter and sugar in a hot pan.
3. For a special twist, serve with an infused maple syrup from Moosewood Hollow, like Sweet Chai, Sweet Ginger, Sweet Autumn (a blend of sweet spices and vanilla), or, for those who like a touch of chile, Sweet Heat.

While pure maple syrup is lower glycemic than “pancake syrup,” agave syrup has less than half the glycemic index of maple syrup. For a sugar-free topping, use your favorite artificial sweetener in fat-free yogurt.

  • Coffee lovers can try our recent Top Pick Of The Week, Java & Co. coffee syrups, multi-purpose syrups for coffee, pancakes and desserts, infused with brewed coffee.
  • See our review of Moosewood Hollow infused maple syrups, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week. Both make great holiday gifts.

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PRODUCT: Love Bacon? Love The Best!

Continue your enjoyment of good food this holiday weekend with some really good bacon.

If you love bacon and love eating the best foods in general, then spend a little more for truly great bacon. With a specialty food brand, you get more meat, better meat, less fat and less salt, providing a truly superior bacon experience.

We love the bacon from Edwards, D’Artagnan (which also has boar and duck bacon), Niman Ranch and Nueske’s.

All of them are available online and at specialty food stores nationwide. For everyday eating, it’s easy for us to pick up Niman Ranch bacon at our local Whole Foods Market.

While not certified organic, Niman Ranch meats are raised on family farms on sustainable land, without hormones or antibiotics. Uncured, the bacon has no nitrites or nitrates. It’s available in Uncured Applewood Smoked Bacon, Uncured Canadian Bacon, Uncured Chipotle Bacon, Uncured Maple Bacon and Uncured Pepper Bacon.

We loved them all, although we felt the package of Chipotle we bought might have been mislabled—there wasn’t any chipotle flavor heat. It was still great bacon, though! We’ll pick up another package and try again.

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Treat your taste buds to truly great bacon.
Photo courtesy NimanRanch.com.

  • Read about more of our favorite gourmet, organic and natural meat products in our Gourmet Meats Section.

 

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TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Stuffing Omelet With Leftovers

 

What should you do with your leftover stuffing? Make a delicious omelet or cheese omelet for breakfast!

1. Beat two eggs and melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in a nonstick pan.
2. Add the eggs and let them set; then add 1/3 cup stuffing and a slice of cheese (we like fresh mozzarella) to one half of the pan.
3. Gently flip the other half of the omelet over, and cook to the desired consistency.
4. You could pour gravy on your omelet or top it with some fresh chopped tomatoes, but a garnish of cranberry sauce might taste even better.

You can also add other leftovers. Here, we paired our sausage stuffing with asparagus and chopped up some tomatoes that didn’t make it into the salad.

As you’re relaxing over your omelet, print our Egg Glossary and peruse the different types of eggs.

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An omelet from Thanksgiving leftovers. Yum!
Photo courtesy Hot-dog.org.

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